Gmail users, your inboxes are about to be rearranged.
Google has announced a new kind of inbox for Gmail that automatically sorts messages into categories, or "tabs." For example, updates from Google+ and other networks go into a "Social" tab, deals and offers go into a "Promotions" tab, forum messages go into a "Forums" tab, and receipts and bills go into an "Updates" tab.
Most other types of messages will appear in the "Primary" tab. You can also drag and drop messages from one tab to another, or tell Gmail how to sort messages from a particular contact. Starred messages will always appear in the Primary tab.
On the desktop, the new tabs will appear just above the inbox, so you can switch between them with one click.
On Gmail for Android (4.0 and higher) and iOS, non-Priority tabs appear in the left sidebar menu, and as teasers within the main inbox view.
Fortunately, Gmail's new auto-sorting inbox isn't mandatory. In a blog post, Google says users will be able to switch back to the Classic view, or use Priority Inbox.
The new inbox does seem reminiscent of Gmail's Priority Inbox, which launched nearly three years ago. With Priority Inbox, Gmail attempts to figure out which messages are most important, and bring them to the top. Though some people swear by this feature, reception has always been mixed.
Good move by Google?
It'll be interesting to see the reaction to the new inbox.
For users who don't receive a lot of deals, social networking notifications, or product updates by email, the additional tabs might be a hassle, as they'll require more effort to sort through.
The auto-sorting should be more useful for people whose inboxes are routinely cluttered by low-priority messages.
Of course, that assumes Gmail's algorithms work properly and don't end up putting important emails into non-Primary tabs.
Google says it's rolling out the new inbox gradually, with all versions becoming available in a few weeks.
On the desktop, an option to "Configure inbox" may appear sooner for some users, under the gear icon.
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